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Removing Barriers Blog

Lots to Watch on Capitol Hill This Fall
Posted September 08, 2015 by CUNA Advocacy

Deadlines are generally effective motivators for action, and Congress faces a series of deadlines in the coming months.  Tucked away in the big picture, “must pass” items facing Congress is the potential for some credit union priorities to be resolved.

The first deadline that Congress faces is a September 17 deadline to take action on a resolution of disapproval of the Iran Nuclear deal.  It appears that the president has the votes necessary in the Senate (34) to sustain a veto of that resolution, but that will not keep both chambers from taking up the disapproval resolution during the week of September 8.  There’s no credit union connection to this issue, but it will be interesting to watch whether Democrats are able to put up enough votes (41) to keep the Senate from even considering the resolution. 

Next up, September 30 is the end of the fiscal year.  Congress has not completed action on any of the appropriations bills for the next year, making a continuing resolution (CR), and ultimately an omnibus, all but certain.  Leaders in both chambers would like to complete action on the CR – which would for the most part keep funding levels at fiscal year 2015 levels – before the Pope addresses a joint session of Congress on September 24.  That plan, however, could face resistance from conservative lawmakers who seek to end federal funding to Planned Parenthood, as well as scheduling challenges as Congress plans to recess for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. 

The longer play on the funding front is the prospect of an omnibus appropriations bill, which could adjust many funding levels and also take into consideration policy riders included in the committee bills and reports.  This is something credit unions should watch closely because both the House and the Senate Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bills include a number of provisions which would remove barriers for credit unions to more fully serve their members.  These provisions relate to examination fairness, privacy notifications, NCUA budget transparency, Federal Home Loan Bank parity, relief from certain Dodd-Frank regulations, and other important issues.  We will continue to support inclusion of these provisions in the final funding resolution, or, frankly, in any vehicle heading to the president’s desk for signature.

Congress also faces an October deadline on highway funding.  Before going out for recess, the Senate passed a multi-year highway bill.  The House Transportation and Ways and Means Committees are preparing legislation that could be considered by the full chamber before the end of September. This process bears close attention as the Senate passed highway bill contains problematic pay-for provisions.

Finally, before the middle part of November, Congress must once again address the debt ceiling.

Congress has a lot of balls in the air as it heads toward the end of the year, and credit unions have a number of issues in play.  It is important that we continue to stay in the game and at the table as these big picture items are resolved.